Tag Archives: sestina

What is Love: sestina

Is love a thing that lasts, or a mere trinket,
a toy that fascinates until it bores,
a passing fancy, or eternal compact
between two souls and never any more,
a gift from gods above, or social stricture
meant as a mere distraction for the mind?

If only short-term passion or mere pastime,
who was the first poor fool to ever think it?
Imagine, if you can, that sadist’s picture
of all the violence that love held in store.
It’s hard to even fathom a much more
effective way to stymie human contact.

And what divine creator is so lacking
compassion for their children, all mankind,
that our connecting is a frightening chore,
as fragile as a momentary blink?
Who would believe in such gods any more,
that leaven pain in such a heavy mixture?

And yet, if love is an eternal fixture,
there seems about it a confounding lack
of solid substance built in at its core;
it takes so long for even two to find,
yet needs so little work and time to sink it.
How could it last beyond a day or more?

It seems so ill-equipped for what’s in store:
a world that frowns on any cheerful picture,
that trades not in eternity, but trinkets
designed never to bind, but just attract.
Thus all the poets say that love is blind;
what difference, when our eyesight proves so poor?

Does love last once it’s left the showroom floor,
or does it leave its victims far from shore,
where stripped of all illusion, each one finds
what they imagined was a solid mixture
begins to crumble into dust and crack,
and leave them on a sea with naught to drink?

No, love is more than either of these pictures;
you neither score, nor spend time keeping track.
You find eternity in every moment’s wink.

26 MAY 2017

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Stars at Night: a sestina

To look out at the stars at night
against a distant tapestry
of endless black, that seems to spread
beyond our fickle sense of time
and stretch the limits of our sense
to breaking, is to feed a dream.

No simple, selfish kind of dream –
the kind that wakes you in the night,
half-conscious, where you only sense
your astral footprints on the tapestry
like sand grains, swept by tides of time
into the ocean’s ancient spread;

nor nightmares through which are spread
vile creatures half-real and half-dream,
who live to devour all, in time;
dividing sunlit day from fearful night
with claws that rend that fragile tapestry
between unconscious fear and sense.

No, this dream gives to us the sense
that all of what we know, if spread
out on the floor, or hung as tapestry,
would seem as fleeting as a dream,
a single faint star on a full moon night,
a mere second in the endless hours of time.

The palimpsest we know as time,
the fickle moments with which we try to make sense
of what seem random shifts from day to night,
great gifts and curses wrapped and spread
like shiny baubles on a blackened velvet dream;
on our illusions hang life’s frail tapestry.

Yet mixed among the threads that weave our tapestry
are warp and woof from far beyond our time;
alone, under the stars, sometimes we dream
of ancestors and progeny, who sense
our presence, head back, legs and arms spread,
offering ourselves, and them, back to the night.

At the tapestry’s frayed edge, we sense
an end to time; and hopeful spread
this dream, in silent prayer, each starry night.

20 JUL 2005

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Carport Cacophony: a sestina

Under the carport, inhaling from my last cigarette another drag,
I listen to the voices rise and fall through the window,
their cadence and cascade a soft counterpoint of sound,
muffled through the closed glass;
here and there I catch a word, a phrase, a hint of mood –
then it slips away, like quick smoke, through the air.

There is a persistent chill present in the evening air,
that causes my blood to slow and my body to drag;
it brings a quiet, calm that soothes my work-weary mood,
and a slight hint of frost to the closed house windows.
The echo of the city slides by like marbles on a plate of glass,
leaving an empty hollow space without sound.

In this quiet place, small ideas seem so great and sound;
they shape themselves from the shadows and take in breaths of night air,
and build great reflections of themselves in the dark glass.
An hour passes quickly, as the sullen minutes drag
and flicker like flames against the frost-covered window,
and abandon all sense of order in response to this mood.

Then, suddenly, I am struck by a most melancholy mood –
I hear the futility of harmony in every passing sound,
and the anger in those voices on the other side of the window
seems to convulse and fold the now chilling air.
time has recovered its momentum, and the seconds cease to drag,
as a passing car stereo throbs by, rattling its cage of metal and glass.

The song of my heart is a symphony of broken glass,
and the chill of the night wind reflects this strange mood;
once the manic cycle ends, the valleys seem to ebb and drag,
and silence overtakes each song and swallows whole its sound.
Even my practiced lungs seem to have an aversion to their diet of air,
and there is a sad, lonely face peering from my window.

I listen again to the voices seeping through the closed window,
and wait patiently as they decrescendo against the cold glass;
I take in a deep breath of the cold, night air
and let the biting, bitter taste of it influence my ponderous mood,
let the chilled rasp of it linger, savoring the whispered sound;
then, from that cigarette, a last, longing drag.

Shivering slightly, I let my feet drag toward the door, put my hand against its glass,
watching my breath steam the screened window, letting it cast off this somber mood;
With a gentle sound, I release this poem into the air.

23 NOV 2002

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